Everyone knows that blockchain technology made its big splash in 2017, most notably with Bitcoin’s meteoric rise in value. But blockchain’s impact on almost every sector is still forthcoming, including one many consider overly complicated and laborious: real estate.
The internet is now littered with faddish blockchain stories, from cryptoKitties clogging up the Ethereum network to everyone and their dog sticking “blockchain” into their company name and promptly getting money thrown at them — the latest was the Long Island Iced Tea Corp., which just saw a 289 per cent bump in its shares after transforming itself into the Long Blockchain Corp.
And Canada is no stranger to the phenomenon, having launched a string of new businesses in 2017 aiming to apply the distributed ledger technology to realms like augmented reality, video gaming software and, of course, currency mining. So much so that Canada is building a reputation as blockchain central, with the startup-friendly TSX Venture Exchange acting as the prime enabler, say columnists Kristine Owram and Doug Alexander for Bloomberg News.
“Canada’s stock markets are no strangers to investing fads, with cobalt, lithium and marijuana stocks all bubbling higher this year,” Owram and Alexander write. “The country’s TSX Venture Exchange has been dubbed the ‘wild west,’ the penny stocks among its more than 1,700 listings gyrating wildly from one day to the next.”
But count us ahead of the curve.
The real estate ecosystem can involve a lot of middlemen and blockchain technology can help make transactions more efficient by reducing the number of intermediaries, which translates into saved time and money for consumers..
Here’s Don Tapscott, blockchain pioneer and founder of Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute, who recently gave his year-in-review à la blockchain and prognosticated that the best is yet to come:
“[In 2017], business-leaders awoke to the reality that the most ground-breaking innovation in this industry is happening in the permissionless open-source blockchain world, including in bitcoin, but also ethereum, Cosmos, Tezos, Eos and other new platforms,” writes Tapscott for coindesk.com.
Tapscott spoke of blockchain’s effect on financial institutions in 2017, with banks taking baby steps towards testing out digital fiat currencies and using blockchain infrastructure to carry out transactions. But it’s the initial movements within almost every industry towards launching blockchain strategies that impresses Tapscott the most, from insurers to healthcare providers to defence contractors.
“Blockchain fundamentally changes the way we are able to determine value in the economy,” said Tapscott to Cantech Letter in October. “It’s really the second era of the Internet –a shift from the ‘Internet of Information’ to the ‘Internet of Value.’ New paradigms like this cause enormous dislocation – there isn’t an industry that won’t be affected by this shift.”
Want a good example? Take real estate, which currently has all its transactions going through the cumbersome and fragmented Multiple Listing Service. A tonne of information travels down the MLS pipeline, tracking not just listings and realtors but contracts and appraisals, listing agreements and more.
Blockchain is perfectly suited to transform this space, by using cryptography to put title information online in a secure and immediately accessible form, for example, and by making identity verification —a pivotal but mostly laborious process— much more efficient.
Blockchain will cut out a lot of the hassle in the industry while making transactions all the more secure, says Matthew Murphy, of California real estate company Chime Technologies.
“The real estate ecosystem can involve a lot of middlemen and blockchain technology can help make transactions more efficient by reducing the number of intermediaries, which translates into saved time and money for consumers,” Murphy writes for betanews.
And few are the sectors like real estate, if we’re being honest, that aren’t weighted down in the middle by verification and record-keeping processes. Which means we’re in for a lot more blockchain in 2018.